Sanral puts screws on untagged motorists (six times over)
Motorists who do not register for e-tags will pay a punitive rate to use Gauteng’s new toll roads—a rate nearly six times higher than that levied against those who have registered, the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) said on Monday.
“Users who do not register or who do not have valid and operational e-tags and who do not pay within seven days will ultimately pay a significantly higher tariff,” the agency said in a statement.
The agency cited costs associated with recovering payment, including invoicing and debt collection, as reasons for the R1.75c punitive tariff per kilometre, compared to the standard tariff of 30c per kilometre for registered users.
Sanral’s statement follows criticism from the Democratic Alliance on Sunday that the new rate was introduced without engaging the public.
“The DA is alarmed at the underhanded manner in which the National Minister of Transport [Sibusiso] Ndebele and Sanral has introduced a new punitive tariff for non-registered users,” said the party’s Gauteng transport spokesperson Neil Campbell.
“The absolute arrogance and lack of transparent processes shown by Sanral to the public throughout the whole toll introduction is abhorrent.”
Sanral gazetted the tariffs on Friday, whereby it described an “alternate user” as someone “who does not have a valid and operational e-tag, is not registered with Sanral, and who is not a day-pass user”.
“Sanral’s view is that paying users should not pay higher costs to cover those who choose not to pay,” it said. “As per Sanral’s governing legislation, it has long been an offence not to pay toll fees and the status quo is retained ... By continually encouraging users not to register, it is actually the DA that is going to end up costing road users significantly more than they could otherwise have been paying.”
Doing what is necessary
Sanral highlighted that the “alternate user” was entitled to pay the standard tariff, if he or she pays within the seven days grace period. It said this period lapses seven days after the due date.
Quoting from a statement it issued last year, the agency said it had indicated that non-payment of tolls would result in additional costs.
It urged road users “to do what is necessary” for them to pay the least amount possible in e-toll fees.
“Road users should not rely on the fear-mongering and false promises of organisations with their own peculiar vested interests who claim that they will be able to stop e-tolling forever,” it said.
Meanwhile, Campbell called on National Consumer Commissioner Mamodupi Mohlala to investigate this “outrageous” new penalty tariff.
A recent march by the Congress of South African Trade Unions highlighted opposition to the tolls, with many motorists threatening not to pay.
The Justice Project South Africa on Sunday also lambasted Sanral and Ndebele for “intimidating” motorists to buy e-tags.
“Just when we thought [they] could not get any more devious, they have surprised us all ... Now, more than ever is the time for Gauteng motorists to stand firm and refuse to be intimidated by the bullies,” it said.
The organisation hoped the courts could bring an end to this “looming disaster”.
According to Sanral, 300 000 road users had bought e-tags at the beginning of this month. The toll system officially kicks in at midnight on April 30.—Sapa